It can be difficult for parents to decide if they should be overly worried when their child starts to exhibit flu-like symptoms. Although most healthy children will weather the disease fine without visiting their pediatrician, there are 4 flu symptoms that parents should watch for to tell them that something is seriously wrong.
It’s not always easy to know whether your child has a common cold or the flu. The main distinction is the sudden onset of symptoms caused by the flu. Children (and adults) will become abruptly fatigued and suffer from muscle aches, whereas a common cold attacks us more slowly.
In an abundance of caution, let’s look at common flu symptoms and the point when a parent should be concerned enough to see a doctor.
The Flu Is a Progressive Illness
Your child can be fine one moment and then suddenly get cranky, feverish, and tired, which are all early signs of the flu. The flu is considered progressive because once the symptoms begin, they will get worse before they get better. The most common symptoms of the flu include:
- Cough and sore throat
- Chills and fever
- Muscle and body aches
- Runny nose
- Diarrhea and vomiting
Not all children will have a fever, but it is wise to keep children at home to rest, as the flu is a contagious viral disease. The normal course of the flu will last up to two weeks.
As long as children do not suffer from any chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, Cystic Fibrosis, or heart disease, there is no cause for alarm unless flu symptoms become severe.
Serious Flu Symptoms
Parents should watch not only for the following serious flu symptoms, but also if the common symptoms get better – only to return more intensely.
If your child is struggling to breathe, or is breathing quickly (fast and shallow), this is a signal to see your pediatrician. The flu is a respiratory illness that can quickly develop into pneumonia if an inflammation develops in the lungs. In addition, watch for a blue color on the lips or skin.
Signs of Dehydration
It is quite easy for a child to become dehydrated during the flu, especially if they are vomiting or experiencing diarrhea. If your child does not want to drink liquids, if there are no tears while crying, and if there are noticeably less wet diapers, these are all significant signs of dehydration.
Watch for dark urine and monitor how much your child is drinking. If you suspect your child is becoming dehydrated, this requires a trip to the doctor or ER.
Lack of Alertness
If your child won’t awaken easily, is lethargic, unaware, or will not interact with you, this is considered very abnormal behavior and should be tended to immediately by a medical professional.
If your child will not become calm even when you try to hold them, this is a serious symptom, and especially if this situation is accompanied by fever and a rash.
If you think your child is in need of medical care, do not hesitate! Complications from the flu can attack children quite quickly, so be on the lookout for changes in symptoms, especially the 4 most severe ones that we have just mentioned.
Contact Westside Pediatrics at (585) 247-5400 immediately if you suspect your child needs emergent care from the flu.